Construction has begun on a new city hall for Sugar Hill.
SUGAR HILL -- Construction continues on what one lifelong resident and public official said will bring "a lot of attention" to a city in northern Gwinnett County.
Officials broke ground recently on a site for a new city hall as part of ongoing efforts to create a downtown area "and a sense of place" for Sugar Hill residents.
Dawn Gober, downtown development authority chairman, has lived there all her life. "I think we've got a city council right now that is very proactive in helping us to create our downtown," Gober said.
Plans for the downtown area began about eight years ago, when public officials polled residents of the area about what they wanted to see happen in their town.
City Manager Bob Hail said residents responded that they "wanted more downtown community activities; they wanted more sidewalks and more recreation."
In response to residents, the city has built and expanded parks, put in five miles of sidewalks and continues work on building its downtown area.
"Once we found out about these desires of our citizens, we started putting money away so that we could pay for it as we went, including city hall. We have no debt at all as a result," Hail said.
At 30,000 square feet, the new city hall will be about twice as large as the current one. An $11.5 million project, it's being built near where the current building is located.
Community Relations Director Don Kelemen said the area is "central to everything. A new city hall can be an anchor for a new downtown. Over the last few years, we've been buying up some of the nearby property for that purpose."
Kelemen said the city's hope is that the area will "become a meeting place for people to come." In addition, there are plans for a fountain, amphitheater and parking deck.
"We're trying to make this as attractive as possible," Kelemen said. "We're hoping business will sprout up around it."
Kelemen said the city has a downtown development authority that "really knows how to attract businesses."
Gober said that the "area will hopefully bring out people that are interested in developing more downtown. It's going to open the door for more restaurants and shops for residents to go to."
Added Gober: "It's an exciting time for Sugar Hill."
The new city hall is scheduled to open in about one year.